Curiosities and anecdotes from the Giro d'Italia

📆 29-04-2024 16-21-12

The idea of ​​a cycling race that would traverse Italy was an initiative of the sports newspaper "La Gazzetta dello Sport," in contrast to its competitor "Corriere della Sera," which had organized a car competition.

The Giro d'Italia would be contested for the first time in 1909, specifically from May 13th to May 30th. Nearly 2,500 kilometers were covered in 8 stages, starting and finishing in Milan (Passing through Rome). 127 cyclists started the race, but only 49 would finish it.

Fausto Coppi, one of the great legends of the Giro, made his mark on the race. By J.D. Noske (Anefo) - [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (Anefo), 1945-1989, Access number: 2.24.01.03, File number: 905-2272, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43354468

His first stage covered a whopping 397 kilometers, starting from the very door of the organizing newspaper. Italian cyclist Darío Beni claimed victory in this stage. However, it was Luigi Ganna who emerged as the overall winner of the race. At the end of the race, Ganna made some unusual remarks to the journalists: "My butt hurts."

That first edition was won by points, as the timing system would not be implemented until 1914. The winner pocketed 5325 lire (about €2.75, which adjusted for current inflation would be about €13,000), and as a consolation prize, the last classified received 300 Italian lire.

Alfonsina Strada made history by becoming the first and only woman to participate in the Giro d'Italia in 1924. However, her participation was cut short in the eighth stage due to decisions made by the organization, citing irregularities. Despite this, Strada decided to continue the race on her own, arriving in Milan, where she was received as a true heroine. Since 1988, the women's edition has been contested.

The pink color was established for the leader's jersey in the general classification in 1931 (previously they wore a pink armband), in homage to the color of the newspaper. The first cyclist to wear it was Learco Guerra. Meanwhile, in 1934, the green color was introduced to reward the special classification of the Gran Premio della Montagna (Mountain Grand Prix).

Great cycling stars have written their names in gold letters in the annals of this race, highlighting legends such as Fausto Coppi, Alfredo Binda, and Eddy Merckx, each with five editions to their names (Binda: 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1933. Coppi: 1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953. Merckx: 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, and 1974).

The award for the oldest cyclist to compete goes to Giovanni Gerbi, who started the race in 1932 at the age of 47 (Previously he had finished 3rd on two occasions, nearly twenty years earlier, in 1911 and 1912). Conversely, the youngest winner was Fausto Coppi in 1940, at just 20 years of age.

Ryder Hesjedal, winner of the 2012 Giro holding the "senza fine" trophy. From Goldmund100 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19626908

Since the year 2000, a spectacular trophy known as the "Il Trofeo Senza Fine" has been awarded to the winner of the Giro, symbolizing the "endless" journey that cyclists undertake to complete the competition. This iconic award is made of copper plated in gold and weighs 10 kilograms.